Scallop Chickpea Tagine
When I first served this to two couples we had over for dinner, the women declared it too spicy, while the men dug in enthusiastically. I won’t try to interpret that data, but there it is. I’m not sure why any of them found it to be so spicy, though. I am sensitive to spicy foods; I love them, but they make my nose drip and my eyes tear and, on rare occasions, my ears pop. This dish is mild enough that I can eat it in polite company without reaching for a box of tissues, so it can’t be as hot as our guests seemed to think.
Dave thinks that something about it makes the heat linger, but I did not experience that at all. I just find it satisfying, a comfort food totally unlike those I grew up with.
This makes a wonderful vegetarian dish if you omit the scallops, which is how the original recipe from Cooking Moroccan by Tess Mallos actually went. I actually think I prefer it that way.
Scallop Chickpea Tagine
(adapted from Cooking Moroccan by Tess Mallos)
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 C chickpeas
1/4 preserved lemon, peel only, finely chopped
1/4 C chopped parsley
1/2 lb. bay scallops
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
Because most people reading this probably don’t own a tagine, these instructions are geared towards cooks using a heavy-bottomed saucepan instead.
If you are using dried chickpeas, soak them in water overnight, then cook them in lightly salted water until they are soft. If you are using canned chickpeas, you should need 2 15 oz. cans. Drain and rinse them. Either way, peel them after they are cooked (if dried) or rinsed (if canned).
Brown the onion in about 1/4 C olive oil, then stir in the garlic and spices and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and sugar, along with a bit of water if your tomatoes weren’t juicy enough, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
Stir in the chickpeas and preserved lemon, again adding a bit of water if necessary, and continue to simmer, covered, for another 20 minutes.
Stir in the scallops, and cook until they just begin to turn opaque. Then remove from heat, stir in the parsley and cilantro, and serve with couscous.